Image via WikipediaOh yes they did.
I can't believe that a school district has the gall to do this not only to this family but the young girl too. But then it is Oklahoma.
Monday, December 7, 2009
American Atheists sue Hardesty, Oklahoma Public Schools and the Texas County, Oklahoma Sheriff’s Department.
American Atheists filed suit in federal court today on behalf of an Oklahoma family who say their civil rights were violated by the Hardesty, Oklahoma Public Schools and the Texas County, Oklahoma Sheriff’s Department.
The daughter of Chester Smalkowski wanted to play basketball for the Hardesty Public Schools. She was forced from the team when she, an Atheist, refused to recite the Lord’s Prayer after a game as was required by the school. When the Smalkowski family complained about this unconstitutional practice, she was suspended. Further complaints resulted in criminal charges being brought against her father.
Chester Smalkowski refused to submit to a request from the District Attorney to move his family out of the County in exchange for the charges being dropped. His case went to trial last month, and he was acquitted of all charges by a jury. The Smalkowski children have been threatened and subjected to discrimination for the daughter’s refusal to participate in the prayer recitation.
The family is being represented in the civil lawsuit by Oklahoma City attorney Richard Rice, and by American Atheists National Legal Director Edwin Kagin of Kentucky who, together with attorney Tim Gungoll of Enid, Oklahoma successfully represented Chester Smalkowski in his criminal trial in Hardesty. Mr. Rice is a member of the Southern Baptist Church in Midwest City. Mr. Rice stated: “I have the right to pray, believe in God, attend church without fear of reprisal from any branch of any government here in America.” Co-counsel Edwin Kagin adds: “I have the right to NOT pray, to NOT believe in God, or to NOT attend church without fear of reprisal from any branch of any government here in America.” Both men, differing in their opinions in respect to theology, have teamed up to support the same legal and ideological position with regard to the First Amendment.
Atheists are not the only ones who would not want to recite the Lord’s Prayer. Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Wiccans, traditional Native Americans, etc. would have problems with saying this prayer. Whoever made up that school policy might have felt that saying such a prayer after the game unifies the team. A common religion is a factor in social cohesion. But times have changed and even places like Hardesty, Oklahoma need to acknowledge that their community is more diverse than it was 50 years ago. And better to teach the young respect for civil rights and equality before the law regardless of belief, than to teach them to “go along to get along.”
If, in fact, the DA did ask the family to move in exchange for charges being dropped, he should be disbarred!